Did Paul write Hebrews?
It is possible Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. There are a couple reasons why this might be the case.
First, in the earliest manuscript editions of the New Testament books, Hebrews is included after Romans among the books written by the apostle Paul. This was taken as evidence that Paul had written it, and some Eastern churches accepted Hebrews as canonical earlier than in the West.
Second, both Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 150 – 215) and Origen (AD 185 – 253) claimed a Pauline association for the book but recognized that Paul himself probably did not put pen to paper for this book, even though they did not know the author’s name.
Clement of Alexandria suggests that Paul wrote the book originally in Hebrew and that Luke translated it into Greek, though the Greek of Hebrews bears no resemblance to translation Greek (e.g., that of the Septuagint).
The King James Version assumes Pauline authorship
The nuanced position on the authorship question by the Alexandrian fathers was obscured by later church tradition that mistook Pauline association for Pauline authorship.
The enormously influential King James Bible took its cue from this tradition. In fact, in the KJV, you’ll find the title translated as it was found in some manuscripts: “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.” The tradition of Pauline authorship continued.
Parallels between Hebrews and Paul’s writings
It’s certainly reasonable to conclude Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. Many of the thoughts of Hebrews are similar to those found in Paul’s writings:
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
|Colossians 1:15 – 17
“The Son is the image of the invisible God. . . . For in him all things were created . . . and in him all things hold together.”
“God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
|1 Corinthians 12:11
“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
|Hebrews 2:14( – 17)
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death. . . .”
|Philippians 2:7 – 8
“Being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!”
“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.”
|2 Corinthians 3:6
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
|Romans 5:9; 12:1
“Since we have now been justified by his blood”; “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”
The soteriology of Hebrews is quite consistent with Paul’s own teaching. For instance, the statement in Hebrews 10:14 that those who have been “made perfect” are in the process of being “made holy” sounds very much like Paul’s teaching on justification (e.g., Rom. 3:21 – 5:9) and sanctification (e.g., Rom. 8:1 – 17). Moreover, both Paul and the author of Hebrews thought of Abraham as the spiritual father of Christians in similar ways.
Both John Calvin and Martin Luther shared this judgment as far as the sixteenth century.
The Roman Catholic Church does not believe Paul wrote Hebrews, possibly retaining a latent memory of the actual author. However, the internal evidence presented by the book of Hebrews itself indicates Paul as author. The style of Hebrews like in the closing verses (13:18 – 25), is quite like many other writing of Paul’s that has survived.